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How do you get good government? Speak up

This is not a partisan commentary intended to attack those who hold different views than me. 

 

I was a witness to the events at Middletown Borough Council’s meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 20, and I was proud of Middletown. People showed up, stood up and spoke up – a necessary part of American democracy – during a rally outside borough hall before the meeting and in council chambers once the meeting began.  

 

Middletown residents justifiably feel excluded from consideration when decisions that affect their lives are made. Protests are a legitimate response by people who aren’t being heard – they are often a last resort that can sometimes be disruptive and uncomfortable, but also can be direct and effective.

 

The overwhelming vocal opposition to the appointment of Mike Bowman to a vacant First Ward seat on council didn’t change the outcome of council’s vote. We can endlessly debate the merits and process of that appointment, but I think the dissatisfaction expressed by those who attended was a sign of something bigger – it was a sign of the public’s outrage with the way they see borough government operating.

 

What do citizens do if their positions are ignored? Well, nothing most of the time. Most people cast their votes and then sit back and let government do whatever it will. Yet every citizen has the ability to change that – to participate in our democracy at a level that can make a difference.

 

Sure, Middletown’s council too often has operated in a way that has left residents in the dark. Borough hall often has been unresponsive and contemptuous. The public should never give up, though. Warts and all, our government exists to serve us, its citizens.

 

No matter how far off the tracks council’s mission has driven, we have the power to influence borough government through our voice and our votes.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 January 2015 20:44

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Human trafficking is a domestic problem

 

To many of us, human sex trafficking seems like a problem you’d find in a foreign country. We enjoy tremendous freedom in the U.S., after all. It’s difficult for us to imagine men, women and children enslaved economically, or emotionally, coerced into it.

But it does happen here. And we may have seen it without realizing it, without recognizing it, according to Hope for Justice, a worldwide charity fighting human trafficking.

In fact, a refuge where survivors can escape human trafficking and reclaim their lives exists only about 80 miles from here – in Baltimore. It’s called The Samaritan Women, a former home acquired in 2007, a Christian nonprofit that provides shelter and services to those caught in sex trafficking.

The problem will be highlighted in a screening of a film about human trafficking in the U.S. called “In Plain Sight: Stories of Hope and Freedom,’’ which will be presented from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 18 at St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 290 N. Union St., Middletown. A brief discussion will follow, and donations will be accepted to support the Baltimore shelter.

The event is sponsored by the Lower Susquehanna Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Global Mission Committee of St. Peter’s and the PUREhope Coffeehouse, the annual Highspire fundraiser held by local resident Stephanie Strauss, a 2010 Middletown Area High School graduate, to combat human trafficking.

It’s a tremendous opportunity to learn about the issue, and do something about it. Thanks to all who are staging the event, and making us aware of the problem.

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 January 2015 20:28

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Middletown's outpouring of kindness is amazing

Kuppy’s Diner sold a lot of pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day, but the day wasn’t really about how many dinners it sold. Never was.

 

Instead, the day at the Middletown restaurant was about a cause. About helping others.

 

The owners were moved to do something to aid the search for Medard Kowalski, a missing Cedar Cliff High School student who disappeared while canoeing on the Susquehanna River on Dec. 1. The search was ongoing one month later. And the teenager’s father was a 1983 graduate of Middletown Area High School.

 

So Kuppy’s decided one morning to collect money for River Rescue of New Cumberland, which was conducting the search along the river. Two donation buckets were placed on the counter. And part of the proceeds from the restaurant’s sale of New Year’s Day pork and sauerkraut dinners would go to River Rescue.

 

Kuppy’s sold more than 140 pounds of pork and 10 gallons of sauerkraut that day. But a bulk of the money that has been collected for River Rescue – the collection continued through 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 7 – came from donations, not from sales. People dropping by to put money in the buckets. Two people stopped in to contribute $100 each.

By morning on Tuesday, Jan. 6, Kuppy’s estimated that it collected about $3,000 for River Rescue.

 

It’s not the first effort to help in the search for the missing teen. The wrestling teams at Middletown Area High School and Middletown Area Middle School collected $2,385 in less than a week for Kowalski’s family. The teams wrestle Cedar Cliff each year, and the younger Kowalski was on their rival’s team. The elder Kowalski was a wrestler at Middletown when he was in school.

 

Think about it: Middletown will have collected more than $5,000 to go toward the search. People here were touched by what has happened, and wanted to help. Somehow.

 

This is how they attempted to show their compassion.

 

It’s too easy to be critical of the borough, its politics, its problems, and what we think it lacks – particularly online, where critics, cynics or plain ol' trolls can remain anonymous. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

 

But the amount given toward the search is a sign that Middletown is made of pretty good stuff. Its people care, to a degree that is impressive, and beyond what you might expect in any town.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 January 2015 20:18

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Editor's Voice: Christmas arrived early for the Elks and Middletown

By Jim Lewis

Perhaps it was the Christmas spirit that moved a record number of people – 200! –  to buy tickets for the Middletown Holiday Candlelight Tour of Homes on Dec. 8 and 9. And maybe the 224 people who paid to see the

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 22:53

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Editor's Voice: At Steel-High, an unusual and inspiring civics lesson

If you’re an American, and value your right to vote, you probably remember the first time you voted – the thrill of walking into the voting booth, the excitement of casting a ballot. The candidate for whom you voted.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 18:25

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